5 Camp Lessons That Can (And Should) Be Applied To Life

The past week has been a week of utter madness (i.e. back-to-back camps), and I’m increasingly beginning to question if I am a 30-something year old trapped in the body of a 20-something year old. The non-stop action and excitement is proving too much for me to take. Even as I type this now, my eyes are begging to shut, and my head is questioning my wisdom in continuing to torture my brain.

But, well, I can’t deny that it has been really, really fun.

Camps are usually the catalyst that spark off something exciting and incredible within the hearts of the campers. The experience of living, eating, shooting with 22lr ammo and sleeping with the same group of people over a period of time breeds a sense of bonding, familiarity and, ultimately, common and magnified sense of purpose – all these formed within an artificial environment created by the planning committee. Much of the strength of this sense of purpose counts on their competence.

Can you imagine if this artificial environment was brought into everyday reality? Kids would be going crazy on the streets on a daily basis, and daring feats performed like it was second nature. Truth be told, the world needs more of the passion and vigor that is teased out in camps.

My thought: Why not? It’s simply a matter of deliberately sieving out the important points in camps that can be applied to life. Here are some things I have learnt over this past week of back-to-back camps that I went through.

1) Detailed planning is good. Being able to think on your feet is better.

It is imperative that the planning committee do extremely detailed planning for their camp, even to the extent of going beyond and planning for contingencies.

But not to the extent of sticking rigidly to the plan even when circumstances stray out of planned scenarios. To be able to be spontaneous and come up with something that provides similar value-add but adapts to the situation would make for happier campers and staff alike.

Similarly, it makes no sense in life to stick rigidly to a pre-constructed notion of a “life plan”. Life is fluid, and often things do not turn out the way that one plans it to be. The ability to be able to flow along and adapt to the twists and turns in life would ease up the stress involved in worrying and working one’s way back on “track”.

By the way, there is no one “track”. As I have mentioned before in my guest post on Fever Avenue, there is more than one path in life – it is whether we dare to venture there or not. But I digress.

2) People will behave just as they are treated.

This might seem common sense, but I was surprised at how this fact gets overlooked again and again. Treat a person like a kid, and that person will behave just like one. Treat a committee member as a mere worker, and he/she will not bother to take initiative and take charge of what he/she is in charge of.

In the same way, one should always take care to treat peers or even strangers just as how they would want them to behave. Be nice to everyone, be courteous and polite, and you’ll be amazed at how wonderful the world really can be.

3) Suffer for a cause.

Being a huge eater, not eating for 30 hours straight was quite a challenge for me. But because it was for a good cause, it was far easier as compared to, say, simply starving myself for the sake of it. Being a part of something bigger than myself resulted in the suffering fading in comparison.

There will inevitably be suffering in life. People always talk about how one should persevere through suffering by focusing on what comes at the end of it, which is the end of suffering in itself. I’m talking about going one step further – aligning your perspective. Make your suffering count by suffering for something bigger than yourself.

4) Being a passionate follower is as good as being a starter…

You know those over-enthusiastic, crazy campers who always seem to bouncing off the walls and whose voices seem to be everywhere at once? These people are the heart and soul of camps, and are often the faces that most other campers will remember even after the camps.

But I’ve come to realize that such a “fire-starter” cannot get things going without passionate followers who are willing to pick up the ball of craziness and pass it around camp. These followers are just as, if not more, important in passing the fire on.

So the saying that every person is a leader is his/her own right is very true. Even if you might not be the outgoing, extroverted type, don’t feel like second fiddle. You are equally important. No matter what you do, take pride in what you do, and your brand will keep the fire moving on and burning brightly.

5) …but being a dampener is equally contagious, and potentially “awesome-killing”.

In the same manner, an unmotivated, cranky and “dampener” follower kills the flame in whatever he/she does.

Disclaimer: These are just general thoughts, and are in no way directed towards any particular organizations or camps. They are merely extensions of my own musings (and as you can see, I think a lot… Maybe a bit too much).

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